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Star economist Piketty joins ticket of left-wing French presidential hopeful Hamon

© AFP PHOTO, ERIC PIERMONT | France's influential economist Thomas Piketty, author of the bestseller "Capital in the 21st Century" addresses a keynote speech during a symposium “Les Entretiens du Tresor” at the Economy Ministry in Paris on January 23, 2015.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-02-14

French Socialist presidential candidate Benoît Hamon named star economist Thomas Piketty, author of the best-selling "Capital in the Twenty-First Century", to his team on Saturday.

Piketty’s remit is currently somewhat vague but will include subjects such as the "European budget treaty”, Hamon said during the official unveiling of his campaign headquarters in Paris.

The French economist, a professor at the Paris School of Economics and previously of the London School of Economics, became an overnight success and bestselling author in the UK and the US with his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”. The book depicts wealth concentrations and distribution over the past 250 years and took over a decade of research by Piketty and other economists.

Both Hamon and Piketty have made inequality a central part of their messages.

Hamon, 49, proposes to tackle inequality with radical changes, including a universal basic income for all French people and taxes on companies who replace employees with machines.

Profile: Hamon's Brave new Socialism

In his book “Capital”, Piketty argues that inequality in Europe and the US has been on the rise over the past three decades, after falling sharply for most of the twentieth century.

The day after officially joining Hamon’s team, Piketty called for the creation of a democratically-elected “euro-zone assembly” that would create financial policies for the single-currency zone. That task is currently left to informal meetings of European finance ministers, known as the Eurogroup. Piketty also proposes easing Greece’s debt burden and creating a common European tax on internet “giants” such as Google and Amazon.

Hamon won the Socialist Party’s nomination on January 29, edging out former prime minister Manuel Valls. He had served as education minister under current president François Hollande, but quit to protest the government’s increasingly pro-business stance.

Latest polls show centrist and former economy minister Emmanuel Macron winning the keys to the Elysée Palace election.

An Ifop opinion poll published on Friday forecast far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen scoring 26 percent in the first round on April 23, followed by Macron with 20.5 percent and conservative Francois Fillon with 17.5 percent.

Hamon is currently forecast to come in fourth with 15 percent.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-02-13

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